>>Behind the scenes at Joakim's cover shoot


At 6-foot-11, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is four inches taller than the average NBA player. A new $60 million, five-year deal means he’s paid more than twice what most of them get.

While it’s typical for those who make it to the NBA to brag about their gritty roots—the tough playground courts of Newark or the South Side where they honed their moves—Noah, the son of French tennis star Yannick Noah and a former Miss Sweden, Cecilia Rodhe, has a unique background that spans the globe.

“Everybody looks at me like, ‘Who is he?’” says Noah, relaxing after practice at the kitchen table in his home in Deerfield. “I’m from a lot of different environments. You can’t put me in a box. I come from different cultures, I have different beliefs, I talk like I’m from New York, I speak fluent French, I’m African, I’m Swedish. So I come from all these different places, and I understand all these cultures pretty well. They make me who I am, but at the same time, I’m not one thing; I’m all these things.”

One thing Noah isn’t is ostentatious—he’s not inclined to show off the fancy features of his crib, nor does he drip with bling. “You won’t see me wearing diamonds. I would never come home with a big diamond watch,” he says. (“We would throw you out of the house,” adds his mother, sitting next to him.) He’s more likely to be found in his favorite African beaded necklaces. “I don’t wear Gucci,” he says. “I’ve had my same car since my rookie year.”

Joakim's Cover Shoot Gallery

Like what you're reading? Get it delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now for our newsletters >>